Published on: Wednesday, April 21, 2021

The Federal Rules of Appellate Procedure govern procedure in the United States Courts of Appeals. Originally adopted in 1967 by the United States Supreme Court, the rules are updated annually in March, with the changes taking effect on December 1 of each year. Chief Justice John Roberts has transmitted to congress the amended rules that will take effect beginning December 1, 2021.

Some highlights include changes to Federal Rules of Appellate Procedure 3 and 42: ‎

  • Rules 3 and 4, concomitantly with corresponding forms, are amended to ‎incorporate merger principles by including this language: “The notice of ‎appeal encompasses all orders that merge for ‎purposes of appeal into the ‎designated judgment or appealable order. It is not ‎necessary to designate ‎those orders in the notice of appeal.”‎ But the amended rule enables ‎deliberate limitations of the notice of appeal according to this language in ‎the amendment: “An appellant may designate only part of a judgment or ‎‎appealable order by expressly stating that the notice of appeal is so limited. ‎‎Without such an express statement, specific designations do not limit the ‎‎scope of the notice of appeal.”‎
  • Rule 42 is amended to require the circuit clerk to dismiss an appeal ‎if all ‎parties agree and to clarify that the requisite fees are court fees, not ‎attorney’s fees.‎

There are thirteen United States Courts of Appeals, including 11 Circuit Courts, the Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, and the Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit. The 11 Circuits are each comprised of a grouping of Federal District Courts across several states.

In addition to these rules, procedure in the Courts of Appeals is governed by applicable statutes (particularly Title 28 of the United States Code) and by local rules adopted by each individual court. Many of these local rules incorporate Federal Rules of Appellate Procedure by reference.